RICHMOND, Va (WTVR)- All across the country there’s a debate about what to do about the increasing number of people standing on street corners, soliciting help as the bad economy continues to fester.
A few jurisdictions - Henrico County, for example – have ordinances limiting the practice for safety reasons, but most areas consider this kind of silent speech Constitutionally protected.
Almost everywhere, the debate is said to be about panhandling, but that’s not what all these people are doing.
The definition of panhandling: someone approaching someone else, begging for help.
These people are generally just holding signs for passing motorists to see.
So what should we call this now-widespread practice?
We hit the street to find out what these sign-holders call it.
The best answer: “flagging.”
See the best answers and how they feel about what they’re doing in our video report on this site.
You might be tempted to call it begging or bumming, but that’s politically incorrect.
Whatever you call it, lots of jurisdictions consider it dangerous, a distraction for drivers. But few places outlaw it because most consider it constitutionally protected. Henrico County has an ordinance prohibiting people standing in the median holding signs, which is why flaggers there sit down on the job.
You can make a little money, about minimum wage, maybe.
Although there can be bursts of good fortune.
But flaggers aren’t always welcome.
Yes, these signs are definitely a sign of the times.